Hot cross bummed – a Christian responds

April 20, 2012 § 10 Comments

When I first heard that fellow Christians were protesting about halaal stickers on Woolworths’ hot cross buns, I have to say, I nearly fell off my office chair laughing. Then my jaw dropped as I read the objections – the sheer stupidity and blatant intolerance left me reeling.

I don’t usually advertise my faith in public forums, because frankly, it’s no-one else’s business. And I’m never going to be the kind of Christian who belongs to the Holy Rolling Bible Punching Worldwide Seventh Day Jehovah’s Witness Church of the Latter Day Christian Scientists of the order of Transcarpathia, and beat you over the head with either a Bible or my faith. In the parlance of the day, that’s just not how I roll.

But most of the commentary on the debacle has been either by people of other faiths, or those of no faith at all. I said very little except to remark on Twitter that fundamentalist Christians were their own worst enemies, a view I still hold with regard to fundamentalism of any kind, and within any faith.

So here’s a response from one Christian. I don’t claim to speak for any others, so please don’t take my views out on your perfectly decent Christian friends.

I address my response to the others – the intolerant, petty, small-minded ones who are making a mountain out of a tiny lump of dough. Stop being such blithering idiots. If this is how you interpret standing up for your faith, I think you’d better go and read your Bible again, because you’re missing the point.

The entire thing is made even more stupid because, like most other symbols associated with Christian festivals – Easter eggs, Christmas trees and Yule logs – hot cross buns have pagan origins. Some simple research will tell you that buns marked with a cross were probably first eaten by the Saxons in honour of the goddess Eostre (most likely the origin of the name ‘Easter’, and the cross is thought either to have symobolised the four quarters of the moon or the four seasons (thank you Wikipedia).

So the irony of it all, dear fundamentalists, is that you are vociferously defending a pagan symbol against a faith that has far more in common with Christianity than you realise, sold by a secular store (that really shouldn’t have caved, in my estimation).

And when you carefully select your buns next year from the pile not bearing halaal stickers, will it really make any difference? What if they’re secretly halaal and Woolworths just doesn’t tell you? Why doesn’t the pagan symbolism bother you as much as the halaal sticker?

If you’re still not convinced, here’s a better question, one you love to ask: What would Jesus do?


Don’t trust me, I’m just the doctor’s wife!

April 19, 2012 Comments Off on Don’t trust me, I’m just the doctor’s wife!

It’s an interesting thing, being married to a doctor and being a health journalist. Because both of these things give rise to a completely unfounded assumption: that when it comes to medicine, I know what I’m talking about.

So sit back and get comfortable, while I tell you a tale…

Several weeks ago now, I dislocated a rib. I know, I know, you want to know how. Frankly, so do I: the final theory offered by my husband during ad breaks was that it was the result of some pretty severe muscle spasm.

But I digress.

In the process of attempting to get everything back where it should be, my chiropractor recommended an X-ray. You see, after three (excruciatingly painful) sessions he managed to pop the rib back in, but then it started to worm its way out again, which was not the result he expected. And so he sent me off with these words: “We really should make sure that there’s nothing sinister going on.”

I almost expected him to tap the side of his nose and waggle his eyebrows in classic ‘you know what I’m talking about’ gestures, but the truth is, he didn’t. And even if he had, I had no clue what he meant. However, I am a woman with a wild, runaway imagination, and a talent for worrying, so naturally I assumed I had a tumour. How a tumour would cause a rib to dislocate, I really have no idea, but I was utterly convinced, and wracked with anxiety at the thought.

I had my X-ray, and waited and waited for the report. Eventually, the kindly receptionists sent me home, and promised to send the report to my husband. As I drove home, I looked at the envelope of films lying on the car seat beside me and wondered if I should look at them. Surely, I reasoned, with the help of Google Images, I could figure out what was normal and what wasn’t.

As soon as I got home I held them up to the window, and looked at my spine, which I actually thought looked quite healthy. And then I saw it. A dark shadow in my torso that appeared on every X-ray, but not anywhere on the Google Images versions. My worst fear was realised. I had a tumour. And it was friggin’ huge.

Now, cut me a little slack here – years ago a very close friend died of a horrible cancer that grew in the muscles of his back. Around the time I was having my rib hoicked brutally back into place, a friend had died of a very aggressive breast cancer and another friend’s nine-year-old son had been diagnosed with a rare, terminal cancer. I think it’s fair to say I had cancer on the brain.

My husband (who knew nothing of my fears) assured me he’d send the report through when he got it, although he didn’t hold much hope of receiving it the same day. I sat at my desk, immobile, unable to eat (which is unheard of), unable to work or do anything constructive. I was just waiting for that e-mail to ping through and paralysed by the thought of what it might contain.

As it turned out, my husband got home before the report arrived. I held up the X-ray up against the living room windows and pointed shakily at the shadow. “What’s that?” I asked. “It’s on all of them.”

“That,” my husband answered, turning the X-ray the right way up, “is your stomach.”

And that, dear friends, is why you should never ask me a health-related question ever again.

Rediscovering a passion

April 11, 2012 § 1 Comment

Last night I came across a request on Twitter. A cry for help. Someone needed help with a Unisa assignment, and was looking for someone fluent in Xhosa.

Now, the last time I formally studied Xhosa was a long time ago. It was one of my matric subjects in 1986, and I studied African Languages for three years at university. And then it all stopped. I live in a place where Xhosa is seldom spoken, so I’m hardly ever exposed to it.

Naturally, I recommended she speak to someone else on Twitter, someone I knew was a mother-tongue Xhosa speaker. Nothing. The poor girl wasn’t getting any help. So I dived in (with a disclaimer, of course). I’ll help where I can, but I’m not making any promises.

To cut a long story short, a lot of to- and fro-ing via e-mail ensued, and for the most part, I was able to help. In fairness, it must be said that the questions were more concerned with linguistics rather than language, with the way Xhosa works grammatically rather than actually having to understand the language itself. And hopefully the person concerned will get the coveted 50% for her assignment at the very least.

But in the process I noticed a few things. Firstly, I had awesome teachers, both at school and at university. Secondly, I’d forgotten how much I love Xhosa (and all language study, for that matter). Thirdly, I remember a lot more than I realise! And finally – and most importantly – I haven’t had that much fun for ages. I went to bed with a smile on my face, and I woke up smiling and energised. My brain is buzzing in an entirely good way.

Which just goes to show that when you follow your passion it really does enliven everything you do. And also, I did say I was a word nerd. Proof positive, if you ask me.


April 6, 2012 Comments Off on Welcome!

Okay, I admit it. This is my second attempt at a blog. The first one still exists on a different blogging forum, only because I can’t figure out how to disable it. (The word ‘technopeasant’ was coined to describe me.) But it took me two attempts to get the hang of Twitter (follow me @CollinsMandy) so I’m hoping the same will apply here.

So, what can you expect? Well, a variety of things. I write about health for a living, and teach business and creative writing too. So there’s that. But I’m also a mother, so there are bound to be parenting issues that vex me. And I’m something of an amateur foodie. I’m writing a novel. I’m relearning how to play the piano. I run Brownie and Girl Guide groups. I’m a voracious reader. Secretly, I think I’d make a great professional organiser. And there are probably some things I’ve left out.

Essentially, I’ll write about what interests me. It won’t be consistent or regular; I’ll just write what I like, when I like. And I hope you’ll like it too.

Where Am I?

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